In an unprecedented and unexpected turn of events, five teams will represent Nigeria at the FIBA Africa Zone 3 qualifiers for the FIBA Africa Champions Cup. These five teams along with other top teams from the member countries from the Zone will compete for the 2 available slots for the zone at the continental championship.
In the past few weeks, controversies have surrounded the Zone 3 qualification as regards who represents the country. On the FIBA website Mark Mentors and Civil Defenders are listed as participating teams for Nigeria.
Kano Pillars and Gombe Bulls finished first and second at the end of the Final Eight Playoffs of the Kwese Premier Basketball League in September and as expected, should represent the country at the zonal qualifiers. However, in press statements released by the Musa-Kida led Board of the Nigerian Basketball Federation, these two teams were threatened to be replaced with Mark Mentors and Civil Defenders. The Board queried Kano Pillars and Gombe Bulls for participating in the Conference Six Playoffs and Final Playoffs of the Kwese Premier Basketball League which the Board dubbed `illegal`. The condition given to the teams is that they respond to the query.
At time of release of this article, no official reply has been sent to the Board.
Mark Mentors and Civil Defenders - the two Abuja based teams - did not participate in the Conference Six Playoffs in Ilorin while Rivers Hoopers did not participate in Final Eight Playoffs in Kano. It is believed that their invitation to participate in the zonal qualifiers is to compensate them for missing out on those two tournaments.
Invitation letters have been written to Kano Pillars, Gombe Bulls and Rivers Hoopers by the Board for the zonal qualifiers. Only Gombe Bulls and Rivers Hoopers have confirmed participation. The qualifiers is expected to tip off at the National Stadium Surulere on Saturday 11th November 2017.